Here’s the 83-year-old WWII internment camp survivor the IRS asked about

By Rob Nikolewski on May 20, 2013
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The not only wanted a wide variety of information from the ‘s application for non-profit status, it also wanted to know what contacts it had with people from other political organizations too.

That included an 83-year-old great-grandmother who was once held in a World War II internment camp, has discovered.

THE IRS IS WATCHING: In its investigation of the Albuquerque Tea Party, the Internal Revenue Service wanted more information about this 83-year-old retiree.

“I’ve always paid my taxes and everything,” Marianne Chiffelle told New Mexico Watchdog. “What I do think is, it doesn’t surprise me…because of this government we have at the moment.”

According to a review of documents conducted by the online news organization , (in a story headlined “The IRS wants YOU — to share everything”), the IRS asked the Albuquerque Tea Party about connections to other groups, including “Marianne Chiffelle’s Breakfasts.”

That prompted us to do some digging.

It took New Mexico Watchdog less than an hour to learn that “Marianne Chiffelle’s Breakfasts” is not some restaurant chain, but a reference to the volunteer work of Chiffelle, a retiree who helps organize informal 9 a.m. meetings for members of the .

The group meets on Fridays at the at the corner of Eubank and Central.

“We’ve had these meetings for a long time,” Chiffelle said. “It’s not a business.”

Chiffelle is a naturalized American citizen who was born in what was then called the Dutch East Indies, now known as Indonesia. Her father was an executive for Shell Oil and when World War II broke out Chiffelle was sent to a between the ages of 12 to 16.

After the war, she moved to the Netherlands and in 1960 she and her late husband immigrated to the United States.

BETWEEN THE LINES: A page from the coloring book the Children’s Freedom Scholarship Fund hands out to kids in Albuquerque.

Since living in Albuquerque, Chiffelle has been active in GOP politics and conservative causes. She helped establish the , which hands out patriotic coloring books to youngsters in the Albuquerque area.

“The kids don’t have any idea, they think freedom is just there for the taking,” Chiffelle said.

The book includes pictures of U.S. presidents and puzzles for kids to learn about U.S. history, as well as essays such as “What Does Freedom Mean to You?”

New Mexico Watchdog obtained a copy of the coloring book and found nothing advocating for certain political parties or organizations.

Recent entries on include in salaries to members of Congress, the vice president and president, as well as a petition to send a sympathy card to those affected by the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

While no fan of the Obama administration, Chiffelle says she is no pitchfork-wielding, anti-government type.

“The fact itself that you have to pay tax(es) to the government is okay,” she said. “But the way they interpret it and you how many rules there are, that’s wrong.”

The IRS is embroiled in a national scandal after for extra scrutiny when they applied for non-profit, 501(c)4 status. The Albuquerque Tea Party is one of the organizations that’s been wrangling with the IRS since 2009.

“They (the IRS) have a job to do, I understand that,” Albuquerque Tea Party president Rick Harbaugh told . “I think they overstepped that a lot.” Clarification: Some readers have asked how the IRS got the phrase “Marianne Chiffelle Breakfasts” in the first place. Harbaugh says his group gave the IRS the name after the agency asked them to disclose all connections to political entities.

The Politico story mentioned the IRS also wanted the Albuquerque Tea Party to supply more information about a group called .

An internet search revealed that Conspiracy Brews is a weekly meeting of Albuquerque political types that was founded by a former Republican nominee for Congress, member of the state legislature and current Albuquerque City Council member.

“It’s just a discussion group,” Arnold-Jones said. “When the group named itself it was done in the interests of a conspiracy for good government…it leans conservative but it’s an interesting mix of people. Our only rule is, when people speak you have to listen.”

“I attended just one meeting,” Harbaugh said.

The is simple and New Mexico Watchdog found no anti-government rhetoric on the site.

Arnold-Jones said she does not lead the group and it’s “not a taxable entity of any sort.”

New Mexico Watchdog counted 25 attendees at the group’s weekly Saturday meeting — including Chiffelle, who is a regular.

The Politico story mentioning Conspiracy Brews and Chiffelle prompted some jokes but also some serious discussion.

“The part I’m not delighted about,” Arnold-Jones said, “is the fact that the IRS is picking and choosing (whom to investigate) … I think this is an incredible erosion of trust.”

As for Chiffelle, having her name mentioned as part of the IRS investigation has drawn more attention than she’s accustomed to but she seemed genuinely unperturbed.

“Don’t cut me short,” Chiffelle said. “I was a prisoner of war in the second world war. If the Japanese couldn’t kill me, no one else can. That’s my philosophy. If something is unfair, I will fight to the death…Nothing upsets me. But I’ll do something about it.”

Here’s our interview with Chiffelle:

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One Comment For This Post So Far

  1. L.E. Liesner
    7:50 pm on May 20th, 2013

    It has been said many times that liberalism is a mental disease, and this administration seems to be out to prove that theory correct. As I recall the 1st Amendment gives the people the right to assemble peaceably and to petition the government. What we have here is an all to intrusive government drunk on it’s own power, with little or no respect for the American people. I wish the lady well and respect her right to do as she pleases in her endeavors for a more perfect union.

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